Court rules "fun" dad should have access cut

July 12, 2012

A father accused of having all the fun with his daughter while his former partner dealt with the “drudgery and hard work” has lost half his contact visits.

The dad was also accused of failing to acknowledge the six-year-old girl was suffering from separation anxiety after spending every weekend of the school year with him.

The custody deal was described as “unusual in the extreme” and was pared back yesterday after the mother lodged an appeal in the Federal Magistrate Court in Brisbane.

Federal Magistrate John Coker granted a variation to the custody orders, allowing the girl from the “fairly brief” relationship to spend every second weekend with her mother, who is her primary carer.

He said the money spent on the four-year litigation was a tragedy, as the father owed $200,000 to his legal team and the mother’s family was helping to pay her legal expenses.

The mother sought the extra time, claiming the father was having all of the fun with their daughter, taking her to Movie World, Dreamworld, Sea World, Alma Park Zoo and on camping trips.

She argued she was missing out on the opportunity to enjoy “down time” with her daughter because of her day-to-day responsibilities with homework, uniforms, school lunches and getting her to bed.

The mother told the court her daughter was showing “various behaviour reflected by the fact she was not spending any weekend time” with her.

The court was told the girl had told her mother “I hate you” and “I don’t love you”, but the father had not “experienced any problems with his daughter”.

A family report writer told the court the girl’s behaviour was a clear sign of separation anxiety, in which a child holds themselves together and then “decompensates”.

The report writer told the court the father would not experience the same difficulties because the girl would not want to upset him while deep down wanting to spend weekend time with her mum.

“The mother says she has all the drudgery and hard work and the father has all the good times,” Mr Coker said.

In granting the changes, Mr Coker told the couple he had “hoped the hurt and feelings of rejection” from the relationship breakdown would ease.

But he said “unfortunately it has not changed and the retracted stance of both sides has become more entrenched”.

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